When the Samuel R. Jr. and Ava Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement opened in 2007, Kellie Warner ‘90 jumped at the chance to support it. The Spencer Center embodies Mary Baldwin University’s commitment to local and worldwide community outreach, offering study and volunteer abroad opportunities, a forum for dialogue on civic and global topics, guest lectures, and more. “Up to that point, my gifts to the college had been unrestricted, but seeing the work being done there, I appreciated the opportunity to focus my gift on something I care deeply about,” she explained.
During a summer internship Warner traveled to Japan to work on a political campaign. This one trip, lasting a few weeks, profoundly affected her, instilling a passion to give others the same opportunity to travel and expand their world views.
Working in an office with five others who spoke little English, Warner and her new colleagues had to devise creative solutions in order to communicate effectively. “We used our dictionaries, non-verbals, and a lot of compassion and patience. And, we laughed a lot. In the end, I think we were successful,” she said.
One gentleman in her office had attended school during World War II. With the help of a colleague who spoke more English, he told Warner he was forbidden to learn English in school and always wished he had been able to. “That memory sticks out in my mind; he was a remarkable man and speaks to the desire to expand your global perspective in a personal way. I want every young person to be able to have that experience,” Warner said. “Supporting the Spencer Center will help that dream become a reality for more Mary Baldwin students.”
Warner’s trip changed her life and stimulated her passion for traveling. With eyes newly opened to a broader world, she has since traveled widely and even lived in other countries throughout her career in financial services. She is grateful for her many wonderful experiences and said she feels privileged to have attended Mary Baldwin University. “For me, it always comes back to helping the institution that has given you so much.”